6 min read

Exclusive: Cricket Australia CEO Pushes Through The Paine


Australian men’s cricket captain, Tim Paine has stood down from the captaincy following a sexting scandal four years ago.

After reports text messages between Paine and a former co-worker from 2017 were to be released to the public, Paine announced his resignation from the Australian Test captaincy.

Paine also discussed a Cricket Tasmania investigation which claimed the actions were consensual, private, between mature adults, and not repeated, and as a result decided not to take any further action on any individuals involved at the time.

In an exclusive interview with Ministry of Sport before the news regarding Paine was released, Cricket Australia CEO, Nick Hockley, discussed the upcoming summer of cricket, which he labelled as “probably the biggest summer in the sport’s history”.

Talking about the upcoming Ashes series and the challenges of organising competitions with the varying restrictions across the country due to COVID-19, Hockley said he hopes the summer can bring Australians together again.

“We kicked off with the fantastic multi-format series against India, now the WBBL (Women’s Big Bash League) is in full swing, to add the T20 men’s World Cup win to the trophy cabinet alongside the women’s is just fantastic,” Hockley told Ministry of Sport.

“I’m really looking forward to the WBBL finals, the viewership has been up year-on-year, it keeps getting bigger and bigger, the standard of play has been outstanding, and I’m looking forward to a really competitive finals series for the WBBL.

“Quickly after that, we’ve got the much-anticipated Ashes series, which starts on the 8th of December at the Gabba, followed by the Women’s Ashes.

“It’s an enormous summer of cricket, the work that’s going on and the support we’re getting from other member boards, all the Big Bash clubs, governments right around the country, the match officials, all the dedicated staff working in Australian cricket, it’s absolutely phenomenal.

“I really hope everyone across the country as we’re coming out of what’s been a very difficult and challenging winter, everyone can come out and about and go watch some cricket with some big crowds,” he said.

Discussing the changes to stadium capacities and travel restrictions due to COVID-19 vaccination rates across Australia, Hockley said the decreased restrictions on athletes, officials and staff will help the general wellbeing and mental health of Australian cricket.

“It’s great that vaccination rates are rising so quickly in Australia, we’re very grateful for the community,” Hockley said.

“In terms of our playing group and staff, we’re really proud we’re essentially at 100% double vaccinated.

“They’ve really done their bit and what that means is we can keep cricket going and we’ll be able to move around the country and ultimately allow for fans to see their teams play in their own backyards.

“It’s certainly more work, we’ve got an incredible medical team who’ve kept us all going and the thing that’s changed most is that now with vaccination rates increasing, it has been a very challenging time for players, match officials and staff with quarantine requirements and being in bio-secure bubbles.

“We’re really focused on the wellbeing of everyone involved and taking a really balanced approach to ensure we’re keeping people safe and people are able to be in the optimal condition and have their mental health looked after.

“In many ways, we’re the fortunate recipients of the great work Australia has done with the vaccination program,” he said.

When asked about the commercial partnership innovations coming in the upcoming Ashes series, Hockley said the joint focus on men’s and women’s Ashes provides a great platform for Cricket Australia partners.

“I’ve been privy to a number of the campaigns of our commercial partners, and I have to say across our broadcast partners and commercial partners, there’s some really clever, high-quality work that’s been done,” Hockley said.

“I’m really excited about the Ashes being a huge success for our partners, a lot of the work, the conjecture, the debates about how it’s going to look and if it’s going ahead has worked to increase the awareness and the anticipation.

“The fact there are still currently international travel restrictions, the one disappointment is that the Barmy Army won’t be able to be here in force, but we’ve just recently announced an extended deal with BT Sport in the UK and also Sky Sports for the Big Bash Leagues, so we’re really excited about fans in the UK being able to watch both.

“For me, the special thing about this season is that we’ve got the men’s and women’s Ashes together, we’ve done a lot of co-promotion and ultimately we want to give both series equal billing.

“That’s a really exciting opportunity to demonstrate we’ve still got some way to go, but we’ve made great strides in developing cricket as a sport for women and girls.

“Hopefully this joint Ashes series is only going to continue that trajectory,” he said.

On Cricket Australia’s broad strategic approach and financial outcome after all the challenges faced due to COVID-19, Hockley said: “It has been a challenging time and we’ve been faced with almost double pressure.”

“One of having restricted crowds and two having the incremental cost of having to put on chartered planes and having to invest in 14-day quarantine facilities.

“At the moment, we’ve got both the Australian and England squad in the Gold Coast taking up exclusive use of an entire resort and that doesn’t come cheap.

“There has been a lot of incremental cost but equally, we’ve been able to play every single match that’s been scheduled aside from the Afghanistan Test which is for different reasons.

“Hopefully we won’t have anymore of those biosecurity costs and we’re just nearing the end of Australian cricket’s strategic plan and we’re now in the development of the next strategic plan.

“In many ways, what COVID has forced us to do is work more closely with a whole range of stakeholders, our broadcast partners, governments, member boards.

“We’ve just had a meeting with all the different member boards and it’s a really important time the cricketing world comes together, and we chart a path forward.

“The building blocks are very much in place; the ICC has just announced the next schedule of events from 2023-2031 and we’re very proud we will be co-hosting with New Zealand the 2028 men’s T20 World Cup.

“That’s a great lead-in to Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games where cricket has great ambitions to become an Olympic sport.

“There’s a lot to look forward to and in order to keep the sport healthy and sustainable, we need a really flourishing elite-level game, then ultimately our purpose is to reinvest that into growing the game at a community level.

“In that sense it’s a very virtuous circle,” Hockley told Ministry of Sport.

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